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Photography for 4th Graders: Best Student Work

June 22, 2015

What I REALLY wish I could show you with these pictures are the videos that the students made about their own work!! The student’s critiques and discussions of their own work were so insightful and interesting. I was also inspired by how hard they worked for a shot! There was almost always a story behind every favorite photo! But since I don’t have those videos, I’m going to tell you what I love about each of these outstanding photos. I found my student’s enthusiasm incredibly inspiring, but in all honesty, I found their work inspiring as well!!


One thing I emphasized in our harsh light lesson is that it’s tough and may be easiest to avoid by simply learning to look for soft light. I love that this student ignored that!! He embraced harsh light along with everything great about it. Harsh light makes colors look even more saturated and creates distinct shadows, both of which are essential to this unique and intentional composition.


This next image was one of the very first homework assignments submitted all semester and I could tell this student was going to soak up everything I taught her! My favorite thing about the picture is it’s story-telling quality. You expect to see a snowman in the middle of a snowy scene, not a grassy scene. The image made me think about the memories that linger after snow days. Two technical things impressed me about this image. First, it showed a perfect use of the rule of thirds and three of it’s corollaries! Second, amateur photographers almost always take images from their vantage point standing up. This student got down low in order to emphasize the subject. A lot of thought went into this image taken after just one lesson!!




It wasn’t just me that loved this next image of a content doggy!! It was a crowd favorite during the classroom discussion. The things the students mentioned were the photographer’s perfect use of framing (the table), leading lines (the floor boards), and the three color rule. This image was taken before we began discussing light, but there’s no doubt that we were also all responding positively to the soft side light that gently illuminates the dogs face and brightens that sleepy eye to camera left. An amazing picture!




This one was a no-brainer – just look at that little girl’s smile!!! This image showcases a perfect intentional use of backlighting while still exposing for the subject’s face.




Who doesn’t love a good cherry blossom image? I loved that the photographer chose an unusual perspective – she clearly took this from a vantage point higher than is typical. It was also a great use of the rule of thirds and leading lines.



This impressive photo came from a super talented student – she just seemed to know what to look for and created several of the best images of the semester. She had to move a couple of leaves to create the perfect shot here. We discussed how the cloudy evening and the side light made this image truly extraordinary by emphasizing the texture on the frogs.




The next picture was taken by my most intentional photographer of the year. Some photographers are great at seeing moments and some are great at picturing what they want and then creating an incredible composition. This kid excels WAY past his age in the second!! He knew that another one of these figurines was at a friend’s house down the street, so he made the trip down there to find it. The way he has them engaged with one another, plus his use of color, and finally ALL the ways he uses the rule of thirds while creating a symmetrical photo… I really thought this was incredible!!!!



When I first saw this student photo, I was a little jealous I hadn’t taken it!! Most students used leading lines as an experiment unto themselves, but this girl really kicked it up a notch by using leading lines to isolate one subject and create a storytelling scene. There is so much to imagine about that door and what’s behind it!!!




I saved my very favorite for last. When this image landed in my dropbox folder I gasped!! Using a shadow as a natural frame – c’mon!! That’s amazing! For a fourth grader with no previous experience? – even more amazing!! This is serious talent at work 🙂 In addition, the image is super strong technically. Only a photographer with a firm grasp of dynamic range and exposing for the subject could make this photo work. I am so proud of her!!


If all this amazing work whet your appetite to improve your own photography skills, good news – all of the lessons will be available here on our blog forever 🙂 Check them out!

I. Composition
Choosing what goes into a frame and where to put it. The idea with composition is to place a subject and background together in a way that tells one story!!
1. Rule of Thirds
2. Symmetry
3. Leading Lines
4. Natural Frames
5. Color and Clutter

II. Lighting
Learning to see and use natural light to create a mood and attract the eye.
6. Dynamic Range
7. Expose for the Subject
8. Hard Light vs. Soft Light
9. Backlight vs. Frontlight

  1. Becky Hadeed says:

    I loved it!!!!!!!-Marcus Hadeed

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